I was pleased to hear a few months ago that our local council member, Tom La Bonge, was talking about a road diet for 6th Street in the Miracle Mile.
Of course, in typical LA fashion, the proposal was inspired by one death too many: an older woman was crushed by a car that had been hit by another speeding car and pushed onto the sidewalk at Hauser.
But the whole street, certainly from La Brea to Fairfax and to a lesser degree beyond, is a circus in an asylum, on wheels. Although the street is marked for 30mph, no one, of course, drives that speed—indeed, scofflaw drivers routinely push 50 and 60 from what I can judge, and run red lights with blithe abandon. I live a few doors down from 6th, hear crashes frequently, see pieces of cars and motorcycles, fallen lampposts, police and fire and tow vehicles regularly as I walk or pedal across or along it. SWITRS data shows a large number of crashes for a small local road—an dSWITRS counts only crashes that cause injuries. Unless I’m having auditory hallucinations, there are plenty more than I found in SWITRS just at my corner, which is a couple of streets from 6th and Hauser where the lady on the sidewalk was killed.
It’s also used by cyclists, including me: it carries the popular 4th Street bike route westward very handily, crosses Cochran and Hauser, both good north-south routes, and connects residential neighborhoods with job-rich commercial areas, as well as leading to LACMA. It would be a boon to cyclists to have bike lanes along here.
However, La Bonge is talking about bike lanes as a maybe.
Sixth has four lanes presently, with curbside parking—but two of those lanes are routinely blocked by people turning left into side streets and driveways. As a result, impatient motorists swerve around the left turners, darting into the slow lane and flooring it across intersections.
We know the results. Yet two lanes and a continuous center left turn channel—standard road diet configuration—would probably get motorists through faster even at the slower speeds it would encourage. This happens all the time in road diets.
So why, I have to ask, are the bike lanes a “maybe”?